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tv   Historian David Reynolds  CSPAN  December 22, 2013 4:00pm-5:51pm EST

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suit and i can give a tax break to a gray suit company and not give it to a blue suit company i have given you an ad competitive advantage in a field you don't have. now you pay me back with the donating to a pack which donates to my campaigning keep seeing power do you realize the economic distortion effects ripple in through the economy multiplied that one transaction times thousand and thousands and thousands over decades? think about how many value misjudgments were made because the pricing of a product is wrong because me as a politician could give you a tax break. it's no small item. why do you think the left of fight so viciously against the flatten their tax? because it's unfair or on that flat? no. they fight it so badly because, again, there is no power in, yes. when everything is eight yes and you pay 50% and you pay 50%, it doesn't really
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matter every thing is a yes and all of a sudden i'm powerless. i've always said that the best thing i could ever do if i manage to win is to leave the job much more powerless than when i came in. i'm supposed to be a representative of government, that's the idea. [applause]. >> as mentioned we do have a few copies of our authors book here with us today, life inside the bubble and of course it's available readily on and at bookstores in the area. we appreciate your kind attendance today. i'm sure he will be glad to continue the conversation after we adjourn, which we do now. thank you. [applause].
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as i said, from afar. this is the first time we've met perhaps. i'm very, very happy to be here. we have a distinguished group of panelists. the serpent people well-known to you. bill kelly is the distinguished american scholar of literature. will be starting with sean wilentz here, who is a professor of american history at princeton. sorry, still out of breath. literally running with a torn muscle in my thigh. limping about here. he's well-known to all of you. he's the author of numerous books including the rights for
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american democracy. jefferson to jackson. it's also a political commentator. has something to say about the 14th amendment outlawing to go. i'll talk about feedback he got back from that on that particular piece. we also have robert reid. his latest book is once you go black, black american intellectuals in america. he is also a distinguished scholar here. we have brenda wineapple, who are just not noticed a neighbor of mine. i'm happy to have had that much of a couple times living on the west side. she's the author of ecstatic nations, a book about the pivotal years after the civil war when america was remaking
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itself. it's especially fitting to have her here talking about culture and all the various ways, all the things that went into the american nations, which is the subject of david's work i've admired so much about it. we're supposed to have 10 to 12 minutes apiece. david will respond. we are here to celebrate his book -- celebrate his work. i can say american renaissance. the writing of history and politics and political history in the united states. i think sean has written the foreword. so you are the person who will go forward and start. thank you very much. >> well, thank you, and that. can you not hear me? is that all right quirks to need
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this for tv or something? no? great. it's great to be here. it's great to celebrate david's book. i get to do this twice. two years ago i had the honor and privilege to read a brief forward to a new addition of the american renaissance, david's book. my main point is the book would shift and come to terms with the great american writers of the pre-civil war years. first, the book expanded simply enough to include background poet emily dickinson hawthorne, melville and whitman. among other things, but talked about how the writing of the american renaissance did some very odd things because he was trying on some very odd things. was able to fuse in new ways to and rational to create for
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example stories a figure of cool brilliance to bring detectives who could uphold morality against the cool brilliant amoral criminal. the. also experienced dutch resort of knew this before, but never as deeply to experience a women's career renaissance. the times much bleaker than the didactic romance, a less cheery renaissance that helped inspire emily dickens' tuna fusions and shocking images. second, implicit in what i just said reynolds vastly expanded the terrain of the area's popular literary imagination of that terrain, which in turn alter their sense of the great writers connections to american culture. which of these authors undertook
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once much richer and must cut off from the rest of the american imagined ratings. dried upon the dark strains of an enormous literature. the amount of reading. no one has read more bad things. very high compliment. so drawing upon the enormous popular literature, and rebellious. but reynolds calls work of the subversive imagination, these writers perform r-rated in american writing in the standard accounts of their rejection of early american gentility habit. in other words, they were revolting against america. they were part of america known out to look at. other america. they stood life as he wrote naysayers to european imitation or uplifting moral with them
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then as the champions a champions of broader american current date that land depravity, street politics and social carnival. in which they use to raise levels of what seemed to be a previous generation too many contemporaries than the possibility. a democratic party american literary art. i concluded in that introduction and brief remarks about how brownell spoke offered as never before both a map and a method for understanding the american origins of so much of modern contemporary american writing mentioning pension, robin bob dylan. among the subversive imagine a. will have little to say. maybe i'll just sit down. i could elaborate on some of that today. american, for example, just so
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why the ranges and readings come including digital as well as literary examples. david is on the first to look at how the presentation of pictures on pamphlets were part of the subversive imagination. it's not simply the word. it's the pictures and works you don't ordinarily read of the words on the front page. instead, i'd like with your indulgence to offer some are personal reflections about the world from which the american renaissance emerged. 40 years ago and a graduate seminar and intellectual and cultural history, i wrote my first research paper. i had stumbled upon an odd volume from 1849 called the mysteries and miseries of new york by one edward zane carroll judson. i was already deeply interested in the social history of workman lower-class new york city. but this is a seminar cultural history. i seized upon this book and try
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to make sense of it as a piece of social commentary is also popular literary form. soon enough, i learned judson was the real name of the raconteur who would go on after the civil war to become the king of the dime novel. above all buffalo bill cody. they also learn how to work with every piece of other writing documenting the world of the bowery and the other strongholds of the antebellum manhattan ranging from the social description of the experienced posture. but i'm something of european background to the chandra. subject in myself to reading much more than i ever care to remember. obviously a forerunner of the episodic serial of new york slums. his superior. that's not saying a whole lot. the paper never quite came
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together. it thundered about them imagining the work of reformism to kind of grub street potboiler unless a seminar was over. i gave up in confusion. he was working way out in brooklyn from the huge american literature and make sense of it. after his early work on george the power went on to write the american renaissance has spoken walt whitman. it took someone with his own literary imagination in training to see entire world in a history graduate duties could barely touch. i rates of soul and not entirely flattering story to make two simple observations about where david's book came from and what it has meant. first, most obviously dave was useful scholarly interests are part of entire generation of americans taureans and critics.
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we want to write an undiscovered history. the history of unsung working people and slaves, farmers and everyone else a previous generations of scholars. we cannot serve ready singles. all kazarian, marxist committee minutes. particularly influential in my circles. we found a common inspiration. to get beneath not just the american renaissance, but the crux of all of american history. beneath the idea, happy or sad, depending in your perspective of a fundamental liberal consensus in the nation's political and social life of a nation driven by the imperatives of paucity of middle-class driving. we were looking for revolt, resistance, turmoil, impudence. we are looking for ourselves. it is not so much useful providing lessons for the future
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as it lives in granting us an american pass we could then call her own has been at least familiar. some of us, we are for. the long forgotten political movements and struggles. other fun histories of the vast majority of the population either cited are written entirely, notably african-americans. much of the were carved out settled into its own intellectual and academic groups, which now dominate the study of the american past. in the orthodox could best be understood by tried of race, gender and class with a third kind of atlantic is the revision suffered a multi-marxist descent. outside of its intellectual contacts. it's equally impossible to lenders and new social literary
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finding with the figures in american literature. it is not the universal impulse at the time. much of the iconoclast of our generation divorce itself from the recognized political literary greats from receiving its most vulgar expression if not outright hostility to those notes instead white european males let alone to with malice. at the very least simplicity and roast masses. they need not go to all the ways of scholarship that from rediscovering those who would then in the phrase of the day, hidden from history. to neglect is not an act of humanization of those. no small part outside as well as inside the academy spring from the shift. my point is simply to make -- my
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simple point has to do with davis' decisions to return to the items of what might be the greatest phrase from eliminating their work about the powers in any friends. david did not praise the low mo of white expense of the high. the political history has become known as the inboxes in the room is called to radicalism. nor did he have the potential to academic theory come including a tyrannical triumvirate of race class and gender. instead, he performed integration that's it not collapse imo, little identity in favor of the latter so much that above and beyond the imaginations of the great writers in american renaissance
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gruen amalgamated art out of pot to the writing and popular culture. they dismiss. one testimony is right here and i'm so glad to be here. working from different places, all of them have managed to understand every level of the american past agreement to play the unmentionable. with respect for what might be called the hare street of america. they have at one level explores circuits and cultural fusion from which make sense to american literature in particular as distinctive as any other. each in his or her own way cracked up in the realms of weirdness of what is essentially a strange american culture come including the strange american political culture is a bit on display for the last two weeks better than i can possibly
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explain. a culture of objects to positions, of all the archetypes trying to make even the cohen brothers have come close to elaborating. i'm the same candor admire some exploration more than others. but today they agree on enormous debt showing how would add great writers so that those writers are inexplicable with a deep and discriminated knowledge of american weirdness. thank you. >> i'm not next.
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>> good afternoon. it's a rare privilege and pleasure to be here. i want to thank david for inviting me, including me on this panel with friends new and old. i begin by name i have a deep set contempt for what i can do as a flyby, the irritating borderline insulting practice of pledging to give a talk, flying by, say a few things and then bolt for the doors citing some pressing engagement. when i was the president here, i pledge not to do that and i believe i never did. here i have beginning with an apology first in a few words and bolting for the door. we are currently in the mid-to budget season. there's several ongoing issues that need to be resolved before the meeting with the department
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in albany on monday and day. i hope you'll ask keys may rudeness and make sure checks don't ask. i am here, however briefly to salute david and to celebrate the 25th anniversary beneath the american renaissance and more broadly david's extraordinary work and career. it is a privilege and pleasure. david asked me to say a few words that will contextualize beneath the american renaissance within the trajectory of american literary criticism and i am happy to do so. let me begin by returning not back to 1988 and the american renaissance, but to 1941 in the publication of the magisterial, the american renaissance, art and expression in the agent
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emerson and whitman. that will, as most of you will know, is remarkable for many things, not the least of which is the setting of the american canon at a moment in which there is little place for american writing in the university curriculum. in which british literature written primarily before 1900. matheson always pressed again in his first five prior to this one is about tf elliott, who along with the rest of the modernist occupied us somewhat space within the canon post 1941. matheson list of great writers as you know with tightly circumscribed. hawthorne, melville come in andersen and whitman. white male, eastern writers are treated in complexity, ambiguity in the metaphysical. implicit matheson's privileging of the writers signaled of course in his title was such
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heard the status of american cultural history. the heritage you up to that of britain, but one which he laid claim to an autonomous nationalism, shakespeare and the merrimack, notes in and then take it. as you know, matheson's renaissance was inflict it by his status as a fellow traveler in the leftist politics of the 1930s. a devout christian at pains to reconcile his faith to socialist principles. a formalist critic writing cultural hits three. a wonder that his account of american writing between 1850 and 1855 seeks reconciliation at every turn. the american past and the american president find common ground. textural dissonances hours else. universal themes emerge from brilliantly termed. matheson's front is peace of the
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first edition is remarkable to donald mckay, builder of the flying cloud another american clipper ships history seems to speak to matheson and debates envisioned. it reveals the type of character with which the writers at dh or most earned. the common man and his heroic stature for the new type, name in the open air. madison is adept in the cold war politics that followed the war. 1947 he delivered the niagara lecture in the salzburg seminar. a u.s. sponsored marshall plan of the mine, an effort to regenerate the corrupted intellect of europe. a service of the enterprise, matheson and contemporaries crafted american exceptionalism coming particularly foraged predicated on regeneration and radical visual is on. matheson's experience of cold war politics had a most unhappy
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outcome targeted for socialist politics and the harvard teacher union was harvard is valid, attacks that may or may not have contributed to this suicide in 1950. the note he left behind when i'm depressed i am against any order which interferes with that objective. they continue to inform criticism throughout the decade. the rise of criticism and the american and commissioning next minute, the american novel, robert nash's wilderness in the american mind. leo marx's regeneration through violence than a dozen others. to find a literary historicism of the time each of those predicated their reading of the american past identification of
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unifying trope of national identity. frequently at odds with the reigning formalism of english department, american studies programs and a few of them funded by the cia are committed to an interdisciplinary quest for the determining mothers of the national psyche. that approach was disrupted of course otherwise an week of 1968, the thrust the chandra so concisely and brilliantly described. the coming of culture was in the 70s and 80s. because action, feminist and then post duration challenge the fundamental assumptions of madison and defendant, exegesis intimate, privileging of the truth on a beautiful and universe will into suspicion. as sean noted, we all look for cells. tests are no longer registers as
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a lay dominican and personal or national. objects of interrogation, save for tangled working power. result gender race and class, the woolly trilogy of the day. introduce the writers schemes, chronologies to literary study expanding the next voting conventional notions of canonicity. a focus on the cultural work accomplished by literary text rather than release beauties became a dominant concern in that regard i know jane thompson and the revolution in word. for our purposes today, the most significant innovation of the decade was historicism, it's overanalysis centered around representation. as you well know, the influential cultural journal founded in 1983 by stephen greenblatt said on the altar is published the university of california press, most reductively put, i apologize for
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that, and distinguished from old historicism on the basis of their attention to the forms of power, the power forms, test ms. trope of the day, endless exams and crossings in clever repetitions. historians have been the relationship between background and foreground, implicit in the exercise is the belief in a stable core of meaning in high literature. coherent, consistent the common cumbers emphasize conflict, bioequivalent. world hysteresis gravitated to the great benefits are a common new privilege those on the lower rungs. the marginalized, and it totaled trumps the grand narrative of battles, elections, social movements. another chiasmus, the herstory city of text in the textuality speaks to the assumptions that animated the school of thought.
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they authorized 20 stabilized, expose the construct a character. followed to its logical ends the approach relativism that embrace in determining the nytimes pointed inexorably towards epistemological quagmire. the most accomplished has built up long before that dead end. they recognized cactuses and did not require a plunge into the meaninglessness. via the archive and description of a deeply textured and it don't come in narrative, stories, the kinds of accounts as sean just described. critics such as philip fisher, sharon cameron, skip gates from time to time produced readings there be animated conscious estimate at my new objects of desire. even in this remarkable books and essays continue to be contained by power, but the
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object and subject of discourse and language. new hysteresis wrestle with the possibility to be escaping prisonhouse language pairs of version a constant enough there were her the formulation contained by the subversive of this again and again to the point of self-parody. that never made clear what subversive minded so that recognition of attainment. they were deployed by anthropologists such as jim clifford, paul ravenel and into the equation. for this, criticism was underrepresentation of cultural practices and space within which parroting structures of thought and feeling might be recognized and carried the day. so pervasive is a sense that however privileged insights may be, they are no threat to power. the subversion myelogenous always already contained. enter david reynolds beneath the american renaissance.
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subversive imagination in and each of them are cenobite. the history of recapitulated title and subtitle and would notice file in a head to his acknowledgments. he maintains matheson commitment to pray for composing a tightly focused space and time. the writers he chooses are white and with the exception of emily dickens, mail. he deserves not the community, present purposes. his nationalistic impulse, great work of art in distinction between high and low. at the same time it complicates the monolithic vendors ending. he does so quite willingly. the privilege of social contexts, in david's words, each of these supports the writers can index as rejection of formalism in memphis is on the spirit of the age, i believe from the historical frame with identifiable forms and features all about their good reynolds
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premise both acknowledges and challenges verities of the day. here it is, david's words a emergence of america's natural literature in the first half resulting in large dramatic shifts in the rhetorical strategies of popular tax. many different kinds of social text suddenly lost their equivalencies and became colored by radical infusion of the imaginative. advancing richly nuanced reading and popular sermons, reform tracks, city mysteries, domestic novels, popular humor. a second shot notion david has written more stuff than anybody i've ever met. he reconnected high literary forms for social cronies, but far more important deployed the genealogy to tease out the subversive aspects that had become a very verified monuments in opposition to the noncanonical and recuperated for the impotent representations of all human efforts to speak from outside the cage.
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i'm all for seem to signify partially torn as religious political and even journalistic sign suddenly lacked viable reference. by tracing the radical dislocation in both popular and high literary culture, reynolds restores to be in the tumultuous collision domenech, residual and emergent does an antebellum. he choreographed as three conceptions in a brilliant dance. rather than reading the writers of the high renaissance as rebels against the platitudinous and feminist culture mcreynolds reason all the hot corn and amerson is nourished by a wide range of popular writing, immediately engaged in what he calls to her thick aspects of perceived reality than the republic or the result richness is compelling from a theoretical and critical point if you.
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more to the point of reanimates the former critical practice than enter the blind alley good reynolds reclaims the sense of pleasure and wonder that draws us to the literary first instance along with the social engagement that mark matheson sprite is. he does so while incorporating and modifying critical forms. he carries this to the remarkable roster subsequent books, studies of whitman, jacksonian america, each marked with respect for the archive, willingness to do the hard work of reading than the welfare incentives. always a pleasure to engage david on the page. individually, each of these books and forms a sense of their subject here collectively david, i'm grateful for your work and i salute the remarkable career that continues with undiminished vigor. thank you very much. again i apologize for the
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departure. [applause] that was done 25 years ago and you didn't have the willingness to just up and let everybody else catch up with you. the product dvd of your career is inspiring to me personally. it really is. i know it takes great strength and great courage. muscle taut. as a student eagerly struggling to produce a dissertation and later book on early african-american writing, i looked one day to find out surprisingly, shockingly uninterested in the most privilege objects of my chosen field. i had no particular taste for what was known as literature.
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i become aware of and fascinated by writing african-american person they've narrative is papers, political tracks and novels, all of which had been produced between 1827 when slavery ended in new york state and the first african-american newspaper freedom's journal is published in 1860 was the beginning of the civil war and publication of the first element of mark delaney serialized novel, blake or the hudson of america. i was not interested in literature because none of these works -- i'm not certain that they have attached to them the cultural apparatus sees that distinguish the sub literary from the literary with frederick douglass is narrative in 1861 merited life of a slave girl, nowhere a african-american writer published for the latter part of the 19th century could be said at least at that time to
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rest comfortably under american literature. indeed the narrative surrounding the american renaissance was once so brittle. i mean the way with we define it. the narrative surrounding the american renaissance rep on so brittle and so thin they tended to limit pot abilities for exciting work in 19th century american literary studies. the story with which we are all familiar is from approximately 1850 to 18 xt, the founding text of the modern american literary imagination, scarlet letter, "moby dick." in rapid succession. they represented the maturation of a specifically american literary and cultural elites, one capable of building upon the great wealth of british, french and german literature is to which they had been early expose also representing the familiarity and the distance to tradition to provide american
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culture. the problem of course was the conception of american literature in american literary history proved to be incredibly dull and stunningly narrow. generations of american students were trained to approach "moby dick." as less a living text to be on pakistan before which one was to genuflect, making of a work whose status is maintained by being an inert object, capable of broadcasting one message -- capable of broadcasting one message and one message only, the stunning reality of american genius. moreover, i'm not done by american genius. moreover -- sometimes sends time. moreover, as the conception of literature prude to be only marginally and hesitantly experimentally inclusive, those
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working with extra or sub literary artifacts. our efforts are imagined as adding to a knowledge for nations saddled with ugly names like history, sociology, anthropology and ever suspect cultural studies. while the literary conserved study. often loaded with old novels are my sound and frankly continued his literary i.d. per se is often based in a series of rather wholly familiar rejections and exceptions that american literature of the 19th injury reject most female writers still. harriet beecher stowe, emily dickinson and others. most african-american authors with the possible objection of frederick douglass and almost all of david reynolds in beneath the american renaissance. go to see the lion share of 19th century human religious writing, sensational journalism
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and feminist pamphleteering remains even today anomaly under examined by american literature and culture. moreover, one of the discouraging realities is that because of a general lack of proper funding for research in a strong desire to produce individuals perfectly prepared for consumption within a rather ill-defined market, it becomes difficult to encourage a printed color to the identification and retrieval of writing that has not been identified already is properly literary and therefore properly digestible within are often quite rigid intellectual and cultural institution. or to state the matter from another direction, though we all give serious into an promiscuity, it is nonetheless the case we continue to train students, train students in
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higher a colleague with woefully outdated and inadequate categories of literature in the literary. routing david reynolds in 1991, in an impressively high yet depressingly dark for an apartment had the effect of turning already grudging student -- [inaudible] [laughter] i really thought ready there is fiercely maintained african-american literature in plain american literature. i understood people doing the type of work that interested me were charged with immersing themselves with so-called field while also first to demonstrate their work. this is certainly the case when i was in graduate cool. but there were many students writing quite serviceable dissertation without frankly
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noticed and these individuals operated in a much more complex ideological actual arena and was properly explained with the most of the 10 expensive department. what i had not realized however was the alarming marginalization with the american literary was in fact part of a larger set of practices that allowed us to stir the politically and ideologically charged in which we distinguish literary text for simple writing. it is largely because of my exposure to david reynolds work that i became fascinated by the instrumental means by which agriculture to.
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the critique of judgment to take and the womanhood, the african-american novelist in 1993. most importantly for me to please the chart did on the relationship between culture and politics and stewart frohnmayer the only people who have read. justifiably famous essay that i encourage all of you to read. not to sign too much going to david reynolds, but i do have to say as well on my way to be within a scholar. this happened. so there's plenty of blame.
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his work offered me a somewhat unlike a part of this artist stanley bodley apparatus constructing in order to critique the role of what i believe to be so-called literature within american society, particularly than american english. the book realized that although i'm very interested, deeply interested in writing narrative form and poetic combine in fact be opposed to the concept of literature in the literary. i definitely believe it is obvious he marred by a server to critical timidity, desire to recognize certain types of talent while often ignoring others, a desire motivated as much by relatives maintain a certain set of professional prerogatives to the reserve of the human knowledge.
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the punchline from institution to the light the beneath the american renaissance has had the effect of destabilizing some of the most day. american literary apparatus. all joking aside, i believe one of the things that happened around david in a set of scholars in the late 80s and early 90s in this country is this data should be says for a lot of very difficult questions with which we are dealing now. once one accepts, as reynolds argues some of the most well-known american renaissance writers through literary form and production of their tax. were forced to re-examine and why the process of canonization, judging some texas literary another's systems thanks go seems so necessary but that many cultural institutions. one might push the claim further by noting that not only is the notion of literature has
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assessed that, but also the disciplinary field that we divide up literature are quite questionable to me. i know a lot of the newer is pricing beyond those mentions. part of the so-called african american literature has been fully integrated into american literature with quotes around both is the african-american object is at least two directions that one. dust, cannot sustain the aloofness that would to be recognized as absolutely, discredit the american are peculiarly literary. her brother disruptive impact of the american renaissance was part of a process of which were shown to be perched on the table. on the one hand, from the 1974 to this country, cultural
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critics were fascinated by many students, one that began in the 18th century to find his love somewhat embarrassingly in the 21st. the feminist in racialist numbers of lgbt communities enslavement colonization, resistant into precincts of american intellectual and academic life. it is not exactly become dominant. that would in fact make them something. they have proven surprisingly vibrant in relation to the idea that attend the most committed
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assumptions about how to categorize endeavors. i can never muster exactly the necessary to be quite as alarmed as others are about some of the structural changes administrators love to refer to. i think people in humanities have a crisis of money and we didn't create, we did not create. david reynolds has not only wealth of material available is, literary culture. those persons are willing to do a bit of digging. but also profoundly affected systems of consumption and exclusion of everyday practices of the production of novels and production of literature and
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also criticism and canonization. the humanistic study in american university had an understanding of limited understanding of what often has what composes culture of value. snr de minimis, were often careful we are not against signing off from practice is better either a likely distasteful. i still have a little bit of question about whether i even believe there's americanized. what a nursemaid that the conceptually built as well as they might have upon the type of work david reynolds actually has done or more precisely many broaden the range of contexts we study within departments of literature. we've been consistently met with
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he was a sense that the extremely limited groups of works and now her criticism. comparing departments with those 25 years ago come you're likely to find much alarmist rhetoric that was ending frankly that there curricula have changed, but they have not changed in radical ways. thus i'll say in ending the os that i don't necessarily like literature, i ignore it. to treat it like the sidewalk. almost everything else becomes that much more difficult. once the work of art has been deemed literary come of the method by which we might approach become that much more restrictive. i will leave at the suggestion that the legacy of beneath the american renaissance is it
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forces us to recognize that much of what we do has been specifically designed about disciplined in some ways to discipline and curtail the scope of our studies. literature is understood however does not have demographic. in the early years of the 21st century come not only have the sheer number of extra literary texts expanded exponentially, but the assumptions running what constitutes literature have been called into question. thank you. [applause] >> he came back. thank you. first of all, as everyone else has said, let me say that it's a great honor to be here on this
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august and somewhat surprised indication. i'll guess, because as you've heard quite a bit about, the important at david reynolds beneath the american renaissance and surprising to me because i'm actually shocked as many as 25 years have passed since it first appeared. he can claim the cougars, pretty much the last person to speak today before you hear from david, i want to take a little bit of liberty intact and somewhat more personal terms of the great and lasting contribution of beneath the american renaissance. to begin, i probably heard a lot of this already, david reynolds in this book masterfully synthesizes what was named just two years after its appearance, the high and the low and the controversial at a bit of that name at the museum of modern
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art, where costo cumbers with newspapers with a comment that character crazy cat. david reynolds had preceded this exhibit by two years with its own investigation. and i quote, the socio- literary works to the expiration of a broad array of social and imaginative tax. in other words, david reynolds was not adhering to the then fashionable series of the literary unconscious that poke through the veneer of books such as "moby dick" or the scarlet letter. or rather demonstrated how, as he wrote, competing language and places them openly at war on the level of popular culture pervaded the rich material that writers such as top or in, powell, whitman or dickenson adapted and transferring them over. put another way, the high and
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low, the gentile unsentimental, political and domestic were not estranged from one another. they inhabited the same historical moment in that moment was not one of qu├ębec's convention or not been alone, but with guns and anger, populated by fallen women in comic gestures and political jeremias, try report impending newspapers along with uplifted experiments. beneath the american renaissance is that the world is a combination. if an enlarged world excavated with terrific energy by david reynolds. there's nothing abstract here and there's nothing finger wagging. it's not there populists are leaders in the examination of the received unforgotten. it's at least not more polemical than the political assistance in the process that the proof of a
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poet exhorts him as a section as he observed it. the discovery of how the poet or writer collated and tussled with the world, larceny ignored by other literary critics at the time in which riders transformed or used. to take one example, the lipsmacking reverential as the stock figure in 19th century sensational literature enters hawthorne in the scarlet level and certainly in late dickenson as david reynolds also writes at adapted images from a popular literature of misery in which he revised stylistically and with a vengeance, a loaded gun. this much you've heard today. beneath the american renaissance, close to critical gap between a formalized in
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reverential literary criticism in which a work on the one hand -- a work of literature on one hand was hailed as transcendent and on the other was placed in the cultural and social history sweeps that work and here's only a cacophony of cultural chatter. i know that for me beneath the american rent is on lets fresh air into the rigid walls of the academy, which i think sean referred to as penitentiary, which i'd already partly left by undertaking to write a biography. i'd never before written one and i didn't care much about biography. i want to tell a story about modern history, expatriation and a community of women not canonized, whose life and hughes writing did not fall within the contentious camp of academic criticism. for until i read there could be
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no place to whether there do become old-fashioned and at the same time or so it seemed to me, much derided literary history. the new americanness, as they were called at that time by frederick crews collective review of several works of literary scholarship for a baldly political insofar as their project was systematic undermining of cold war invokes an american renaissance. rightly interrogating what america meant empty home as well as the literary canon, decent americans renew his or assist as we are eager today, which was distinct from the old historic and they can't literature did not emerge from one presumable from what is understood as that consists of the dominant resist
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and ideology within any particular text and within the reader of that text. i think the contribution david reynolds made to literary studies is about the click with tim reynolds was patently familiar, and nonetheless i'd got the battle lines being drawn by them and struck out in a different direction. we can understand the books broader impact. if we look at the subsequent writing. in this regard and thinking of the walt whitman's america than in 1995 solid beneath the american renaissance, a book i've read many times in which begins almost by way of implicit warning with the remark but has proved easier for critics to theorize about literary history and to write it. that said, reynolds further explains in the spokane tends to overcome piecemeal. the word is whitman. piecemeal approaches to literary
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history by reconstructing the life and times of america's most representative poet and the close of reynolds but come me conclude i fully observe his time became a writer for all time. what reynolds exported between the beginning and end up while whitman's america are precise the terms and processes. that absorption entails and which is the life story of an artist uses cultural history of that for the first time. while whitman's america not only place the poet next to jenny lind who whitman got to quit crt t. barnum who we interview, but also sentenced to the killing fields near fredericksburg in the hospital of washington, where he mocked the browse of the wounded and in washington regulator mourns the death of abraham lincoln in this great elegy when lilacs in the broom. showed how the great poet did
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not duck the question of his own sexuality. how he adored and hated technology, how you five celebrity and how the democrats, andrew johnson, whom he had a good man appalling to me and behaved another highlight of his career do i contradict myself with ben asberry well then, i contradict myself. the way that whitman to follow this soaked up his time. ..
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way that we understand, let me speak. he goes so far to suggest before reynolds delivered it to you if in 1995 of the term cultural biography, biography was often considered particularly in the academy profoundly. the stepchild of history and the embarrassing cousin of literary or other criticism regressive and without shrek was set your attic foundation. without getting specific technical, let me just generalize for a moment to say
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that literary decorum would choose the tail. who cares what wittman thought of queen victoria, never mind andrew jackson, and what mattered, historical treatment of his life as long as he wrote the confidence not. of course of the women's subjects were accepted. here at the taller trumped detail as in the case of gertrude stein we're too much ambition was considered a failing and recently during the upset at the metropolitan museum of art of her and her brothers art collection, they encountered quite a bit of criticism for not include a statement about the allegedly collaborationist activities during world war ii. where she remained in france. at another extreme, the critical more less ignored the biography within didn't import out right. quoting from the death of the author won critical the arrest
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once said to me the death of the author is only. the biographies examination of one person's individual life opened a the disparagement as promoting the rampant and pernicious the theology of individual income and of course biography's suffered and suffers from its interest isn't hitting it recently praising stanley's new book on charlie parker "the new york times" reviewed at the white said he isn't about getting his knees dirty, rooting around the old tax bills in manila of folders and yellow box office receipts. he is about aesthetics and ideas. that is under the purview of the biography of the individuals stand tall neither the esthetics or ideas should exist. and it is merely a peeling logical and millable collection
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of dusty documents. hence the need for the cultural biography presumably to defend of such my eve assumptions. he points out implicitly after and because of the american renaissance pity it in his books about what men and brown and harriet beecher stowe, a biography like the criticism is highbred if part history part sociology, part of the static analysis, part recovery and getting one's knees dirty. david has tracked literature and the impulse of its makers in the complex traces of its production. he sought in the house, the yard, the school, under the bed and in the closet and on the refuse, the placards, the newspapers and the books and the metaphors and the medicine cabinet the propaganda and the
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publicity. to be sure to place among the products and practices his life and his work do not exist in the abstract but piecemeal but a separate table and the library table among the streets of washington and the back streets me during the second inaugural. the cultural practices, as the ethics and personal trace converge on such mundane matters as the cold water bath, the vv crockett manuals, the pages of raft and information, spiritualism, harriet nelson and the book called the record of crime in the united states. here history is all around us forever out of reach perhaps just beneath the polished surface but going forward and backward which is where we are always going and in a rich beneath the american renaissance and beyond david reynolds cogently and brilliantly asks us
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to recognize and to remember as if and perhaps for the first but not surely for the last time. thank you. [applause] >> thanks so much what to think the graduate city of the university of new york and the chancellor bill kelly for putting on this event and also the others who were involved in it including paul and the english student association, appreciate their work a lot the english and american studies programs revolutionizing american studies, the center for the humanities and the fee lerman institute. thank all of you also for coming out today. and i welcome our c-span
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audience ounce well and our live stream audience. i am truly humbled to be out here with annete, bill and sean. it so happens at this very month is the 25th birthday or anniversary of the american renaissance which was first published by annete and has been read reprinted by oxford, the recent addition to it by the way, seven of my books are being raffled off if you have a tickets. i think that paul has been over there on the table. if you don't want them you can hand them off as gifts or
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something. [laughter] anyway, so i signed copies. back in in 88 as a youngster, not that young, but claiming that promotional latter i wasn't looking decades down the road beneath american renaissance or did i dream that one of my other books in addition to the poultry within that being the big clue in a series called "breaking bad." [laughter] that book wasn't meant to be read by hank in the bathroom with toilet paper in one hand and my book in the other hand. [laughter] anyway, looking back on the american renaissance it is in the 70's, that is a long time ago, while i was in the program at berkeley. i took a seminar in the 1900 american popular culture in the
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american studies and we read a popular text that aroused my curiosity of the unfamiliar writing must and that led to my dissertation that became the first book that deals with a few hundred 50 writers of the religious literature from the puritan times of to the early 20th century in the early 19th century. and in that book i discovered many that became central in the so-called revolution in social studies with an interest in the marginal and this of all turn and in my further research i surveyed the entire range of 1865 popular riding and i found much of it surprisingly dark,
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sensational or politically radical. it frequently crowded the gender norms and disrupted the hierarchies and broke down the dualism like her immense verses animals, humans versus things in a style that was pre-modernistic. my next two books were about and especially a subversive author the philadelphia novelist george. this led to my fourth book beneath of the american renaissance in which i shall have the energy of the popular cultural infiltrated the familiar writings of seven major american authors contrary to the longstanding view ever since mel velte, hawthorne, dickinson and others had alienated from the society. i found that their work actually owed much to their extraordinary openness to the often experimental and adventurous american popular culture around them. in the years i was riding believe the american renaissance, the theory was much
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remained and the boundaries between the disciplines were dissolving although i share the interdisciplinary forms and the fury i was alarmed by the human agency that the post reckless move often involved the declaration about the death of the author as it was mentioned by brenda with the notion of the author function as a jargon and literary criticism a much the author was neglected altogether and so lyneham moved in the later books was to reach across the disciplinary divide through the social, cultural, and the political history to treat the authors and others as people and tangled in real issues and the actual discourses and defense of their time. milfoil once pointed out shakspere was master william shakespeare turning out the plays while being excoriated as an upstart crow and another
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bird's feathers and as i reminded the readers in his day it wasn't all well and he was scratching by trying to escape his financial dependency on his father in law by writing novels that are filled with popular cultural images. emerson and thoreau as lecturers had a key in their audiences and even as they meant they did caught up such as native american removal, the environment of slavery, walt whitman that emerged out of popular journalism tried to heal a fractured american society in his poetry while he served as the psychological rhetoric of his problematic family. emily dickinson had to deal with the family assertively read newspapers and popular novels that provided the images and themes for the experimental poetry. these officers would have their ability to respond creatively and thoughtfully to their real-life surroundings. for them it wasn't something out
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there on the margins. it was the universal essence that permeated the private space and the individual psyche. as emmerson road and this was quoted earlier the idea of the times are in the air and affect all that read it and we'll learn without effort almost through the pores of verse can. the books i've written since then on people like wittman and john brown have taken me further into the realms i began to export in beneath the american renaissance gender and race and slavery and have carried me into other areas including science and politics from music, theater, art, photography, advertising, film and graphic art and i am finding such phenomenon never operated in the isolation. they are always interacting and bleeding that affect the individuals and help bring about social change. i have learned from several critical trends that have emerged since the first
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publication of the needs of the american renaissance in my yearly update of the criticisms that i do for the bibliography on life all of which i find important. the aspect defines this special online archives. beneath the american renaissance i had to spend years in libraries poring over old books and newspapers and now there's nothing to replace an actual library and an actual archive especially since it is so revealing in those books as artifacts, physical artifacts, but i must say it that of the availability today it is a godsend for me and for many letters that are joining in the effort to reconstruct americas and other nations literary and cultural paths.
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another area where my approach interceptors with the current trend i think his legacy and called a new formalism in all realms of the culture intertwine in every fashion by the creative imagination accorded with efforts of the formalistic mind with restore some, a cognitive psychology and aesthetics. some might ask is and the literature has transnational as it is natural to become national i have been reading for a long time ever since faith and fiction and beneath the american renaissance in which i discussed the popularity in america's so-called oriental tails and i've discussed in my recent books england, continental europe in relation to the u.s.. having said that i think it's important to keep in mind the unmistakable time and place to leave on the literary work. many of the works that come close to achieving the global status are those that are the most deeply saturated in the
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discourse of their own culture the discourse is to gain the expression when they are filtered through the individual creative imagination. the have words about a sinking ship that could only be american and speaks to the fact that moby with all of its roots in the trans-atlantic writings have many specific american cultural phenomenon and from milton l.'s own experience. emmerson even with his philosophy famously declared that american authors must, "have our own time and circumstances and he gave a long list of the native americans and on and on. walt whitman branded the fact that he had observed the nation so much so that in the very first of his three anonymously published self reviews it must be nice to be able to review your own books. anyway, the very first line and
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american bar at last come an american bar at last. and here i am. and literature in different parts of the world is stamped by their own national identities. where would ulysses v. without the context of ireland or madam without the french provincial culture war virginia woolf without cornwall in london or without the nigerian folklore and on and on and so in our embrace of the transatlantic and the global which i endorse, we cannot forget the national and personal origins that are a central to the future of many of the literary works no matter where they are written. i will conclude with a few remarks about i think the role of the humanities today pity i was recently at a comparative literature conference in paris with a keynote speaker that suggested in our increasingly
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pragmatic society, the humanities should go in a kind of defensive mode and make it stick against the sciences but my view is we should try to shake hands with science as a number of scholars in fact are doing. come besides the out region science including echo criticism from animal studies, disability studies and a few other literature and medicine. we live in a time when the humanities are under a real threat and i'm talking about the threat robert talked about. public funding for the humanities is being slashed and the funded many of the american renaissance and other books like cathy davidson's revolution in the work and some of the other books were written under that particular fellowship is apparently on the chopping block and both be in each of course went out during the shutdown, that even now they are kind of lending a long and apparently
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they have a big slashings. wealthy fully recover? will many americans see the humanity as one of the first places to cut. and so unless we adapt to the current environment we may lose not only big bird house was set in the last presidential race, but also some big bucks that would otherwise have been made possible through the federal support. i believe that we can combat the sidelining of the humanities by making their ridings viable to the larger world in whatever way possible and bring to bear the expansive vision and what the humanities can offer. they are needed now more than ever to challenge not only the arcane overspecialization in academe but also then narrowness and extremism that are all too prevalent in american -- in america today. my own effort in the american renaissance and other books has been to try to represent the entire american experience on
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the grassroots up, including all varieties of writers to show how the most energetic forces in popular culture have them read channeled and refashioned and timeless works of literature. thank you very much. [applause] >> i was going to say a few words before fitted out by coming late so i would like to take questions from the audience. what do first is their anything you would like to say to one another 41 to throw it out to the people of? are you just leaving after some people? any questions you could say who you are and --
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>> [inaudible] [inaudible] the question is how well people can recognize them -- because it seems to me like [inaudible] [inaudible] everybody knows, particularly the people who do what you do.
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[inaudible] then people have to get jobs, but what i like about your work is that it stays focused on the kind of people you're talking about because [inaudible] yoo jolie make -- you actually make it come alive. you make it feel like it is part, that [inaudible]
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nobody cares about that but you actually do what a cultural historian should be able to do. the have to bring the information alive. [inaudible] [laughter] [inaudible] it is so startling because you actually meet the readers feel the times and that that's the way things were going at that time.
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but you do. you have a real talent. >> that is kind of what i was going to say. it's clear from all the things we were saying today why he was the perfect person to do that. but you get a sense of what he is doing and what she had to do in order to produce that work and that is the brilliance of the book on his talent recognizing the talent of other people and being able to bring that to the reader and make it clear to the reader. another question? >> nothing among the panel
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[inaudible] [inaudible] the microphone working? >> i think a whole new meaning to the american renaissance and the country and everything to be written without even mentioning too much of what i mentioned why? because to me it's like an endless sea of energy. now tap into certain energies,
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but there are so many of your energies that are very important out there a lot of people read my work and say you've covered everything and i say you know what he said about life, the trillium part has not been said. there is so much out there with this online archive and now there are thousands and thousands of newspapers and books online that can really help you reconstruct a culture and it seems to me there is so much more work to be done and maybe you can comment on this. >> not on that directly, but as david was speaking, i began to think of the question of the context that really speaks to
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what david was talking about and the energy of context and how the context disappears even in our own time i have two examples that may not mean anything to anybody who was i don't know under 30 here but for those of you that aren't, like myself, on the two contexts from the teaching experiences that i had once when i was teaching elizabeth of the been shot and the name of the poem was at the filling station -- i'm sorry? the name of the column was out the filling station and one student raised his or her hand and said what is a filling station? [laughter] that was a little while ago. and more recently i was again teaching and i was talking about how some writers use different
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techniques getting words on pages. some people accuse yellow sheets of longhand and some composed directly on the computer and i have a friend who uses only a smith corona electric and he has a whole warehouse of people. he is rather well known and every time he mentions it someone from the new smith corona electric another student raised a hand and said what is a smith corona electric and to me it was a shock. >> the amusement at the typewriter. >> but that's the point and that is in my own time and perhaps some of yours, that's the point. and so if you just roll back 100 years, 150 years or a thousand
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years you imagine what is lost in just that kind of vernacular and of one of the achievements of david's work and what we are talking about here are those energies trying to find them and somehow relocate them and figure out what it was when i was able smith corona's electronic meant something. i covered one so to me it was a big deal and here it was gone and obsolete. and i sure we all have examples from our own lifetimes where we can see energies to dissipate and so but that doesn't mean they did not exist. >> he wanted to say something? >> is this thing on at all? i will shout. >> [inaudible] >> is that any better? >> no. >> i always meant to ask you were a long time i wanted to ask about history and writing about authors, john brown didn't write
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a whole lot. >> i've written about non-writers, too that is curious what you're take was. it must be different. how is it different and how do you see those two accounts connected? >> that's a very good question. >> did everybody here that? >> writing about the historical figures as opposed to writing about the writers and influenced by the discourse pherae that all of our brains are influenced by outside discourse and emmerson's idea that the idea seeps through our skin almost like a year and we began our contemporary environment almost without knowing it and to me that applies both to the writers like
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walt whitman who have especially high a broad array of feelers into its environment because he only went to school until age 11. he still was so curious about the world that he knew about the town everything from the chronology to the country and that's why he is second only to shakespeare and there's a vocabulary of words he uses or abraham lincoln the historical figure to recite shakespeare by the page because he had a terrific curiosity about the world around him and he loved shakespeare and he will also tell endless stories. so for me edison only that much different. to me john brown s someone who
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it was his words when he was in prison and when people come reprinting his words, thinking how silly the scores words were and yet they shot around the world and emerson said it the john brown speech was second only to the gettysburg address ending the greatest american speech. sometimes historical actors themselves or lincoln really lives through the the date of the gettysburg address. so the discourse is always there at least in some degree as writers can with writers with great genius it's more
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apprehensive it seems to me in their absorption of all these other discourses he had everything from the sensationalism to the chronology to the women's issues, gender issues and kind of sort emerson once said it is the one controversy in the entire realm of experience in the particular work of genius she said what shakespeare would do is run through the scraps of the waste and he got all of these images and characters and he conveyed to them through the symbols and
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through the language and discourse and emily dickinson they do the same thing as well and i think that lincoln at his very best does this as well, to mecca. he brings the rational he tried i don't know how many hundreds of cases but he kind of fuses this almost mythical knowledge of the american experience and the principle behind what the ecology is with its legal mind in the cooper union and also the debate and if they have the ability also to contend for example in the second inaugural
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of the american principle and so i think this course is important for historical writers. that is a pretty good step. >> [inaudible] [inaudible]
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[inaudible] i think one of the things that concerns me is that there is a real challenge to help the fields are established and what the need particularly for the department of literature or going to be in the 21st century going forward. i.e. agreed by the way it seems we have a very strong arguments to make about what we actually can and cannot do. i am not certain that those arguments can be based on an idea that we have to protect a tradition of literature that is already established. i think you can do that but you have to do it in conjunction with the idea that we are also interested in the idea of what is literature and that we are not necessarily committed to making that decision going forward i really frankly don't know the majority of americans are reading in terms of the
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fiction ever gets as the literature as we're talking about professionals in the field things are far fuelled from what people are imagining as being from the fiction and poetry and i can tell you certainly any of the new yorkers will be very clear about this act that what is being consumed by those on the subway is very often not what is being taught and referred to in the classroom. i think you have to have some type of a balance with that. also will but for me has to do with the archives and what i want to say about one of the things that really concerns me and especially today i think it is really significant is that our country is under also an amazing amount of pressure. and so, the part of what the way that i think the logic of that works is the reason that you say to the clever person on working
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on a gifted scholar go to the archives isn't simply because they are going to front great tax payers but they will find a lot of stuff that doesn't reach the level of support same image and the letter never really reached that point, but if our focus is only on those that have been then it will rapidly expand faster. but if that focus continues to be that way then the question of what the american culture actually is and how it is that you do understand how to read the text within the content i think it is quite gummy. and as things get tight it is easier to focus on things that have been accepted and published and reproduced verses looking at all of those things that stand around. so i want to have a grouchy sort of attitude about the literary
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because they want other things to happen especially as a person working in the field in which it is hard for even the majority of the things recognized as literature in the field to be recognized in other parts of the profession. so, -- i think what attracts me to that this for example the loved talking about -- anything is for the new formalism. they have the link of the popular culture, historicism and the psychology. again i don't want to praise this either but it's an interesting new movement and it kind of racist old criticism
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they talked in terms of all of that but maybe you referred to a comic book or something like that and also to discuss the psychology and the context as well, again because you asked about i am all for expanding. and when the society doing research i came upon an ample novel. it's a lesson for life. there wasn't an ounce of energy it's a very similar plot and
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character and then i realized what was missing. all of the cultural energies and the new religious style and the darkness, all of these images that were woven in if there were utterly lacking in a very flat even though the narrative was quite similar i think it was a lesson of life. three exciting. they've sold 2300 copies from the example and i am going taking about the first two books
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just to read the novel. people prefer to do something else and rely on moby. it seems to me there is a lot of richness that is still out there it is complete and unknown whether she died all of the punctuation was corrected and of little titles on the poetry she wasn't really known until thomas
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page johnson came along as the founder and the library period if and suddenly this complete unknown i didn't want to make a hierarchy and that's the same with the slave narratives. i think that it is right for example. for me they really do stand out intrinsically. there is a lot of those where some of the others were interesting and important but maybe they lacked the kind of density or richness that he would find with let's say
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frederick douglass. >> some texts are better than others. >> [inaudible] [inaudible] with the shrinking because the attacker use of this proliferation of books that academically no one reads. that is different now because of
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the revolution and the fact so much as featured and published on-line and some things will survive. detention backend 81 the average print run it's about 300 or 350 or something like that about 300 or something like that that they can barely sell the libraries. so, and the price of the book as well. and yet, you have to publish the book to get the university press books out there.
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and it's harder and harder to get reviews. the digital revolution some people blog for example. the academic books exist i try to reach for the academic and put beyond that. they might be interested in the culture if we can jump that divide in the approach to
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interest people got our own little bit outside of the academe and talk to them in some way so that we can sustain all of it together then maybe we can keep the book publishing alive. >> [inaudible] i was going to asked -- index q&a how well literary critics can speak to the historians and vice versa and you're in the middle of it but you are doing the literary and the cultural history but this is a big problem there are a lot
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historians that like literature and they want to incorporate it into their own work but to the need to get a sense of what is being said so when it comes to the new formalism and that sort of things -- >> there is a lot of compartmentalization. the history department, the english department and account literature over there and psychology over there and there again i think the intro was in academe and there should be a little more dialogue and i am very happy to see that the table the historians, biographers and the teachers at harvard law school it seems to be that any way that we can bridge that dapper it seems to me that is the beginning and science is certainly one way.
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>> you have a question? >> excuse me. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] and it doesn't matter where it's from [inaudible]
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[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] i just want to talk about
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publishing. suppose you abolished the ph.d. dissertation which i think would be great idea myself to save a lot of trees but i don't think you have to publish -- most people that publish dissertations never publish another thing again. it's not the mark of being a scholar or being a teacher and not all of us are book writers. i know someone once told me even great writers had their distances. there were 3,000 people, 300,000 work people, marathon runners and sprinters but those are the good writers. most people don't have any of that. so the only way that you can be talented. i think that if we abolished the would be one step. the second would be abolished the peer reviewed articles which i think is


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